Gov. Jack Markell unveiled the State of Delaware’s new plan to address the growing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in Delaware during a packed news conference at Christiana Care’s Swank Memory Care Center on Feb. 17.
“I want to thank everyone at the Swank Memory Care Center for their work in helping families affected by Alzheimer’s disease,” Gov. Markell said. “With Delaware’s fast-growing aging population, it is extremely important that the state increase and improve our ability to support individuals dealing with the burden of Alzheimer’s disease, and partners like the Swank Memory Care Center are crucial to our overall success.”
The Swank Memory Care Center is Delaware’s first comprehensive outpatient office for patients and their families who cope with memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s, which is an incurable, degenerative brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and behavior. Individuals with Alzheimer’s eventually lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment.
“We opened this center because of our promise to our patients: to serve as expert, caring, partners in their health, providing services that our neighbors value.,” said Michael Rosenthal, M.D., chair of the Department of Family & Community Medicine at Christiana Care, which oversees the Swank Memory Care Center in Wilmington.
Patricia M. Curtin, M.D., FACP, CMD, chief of Geriatric Medicine, was part of a task force co-chaired by the Delaware Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities and the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association that crafted the state plan. David Simpson, M.D., is the medical director of the Swank Memory Care Center.
The state plan outlines five goals:
- Increase the awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.
- Bring focused attention to the development of long-term care services for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Strengthen support for caregivers.
- Improve the capacity of Delaware’s workforce to respond to the needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Increase Delaware’s capacity for Alzheimer’s disease research and data collection.
These goals fold into Christiana Care’s efforts to create partnerships with its neighbors, said Dr. Curtin, also director of clinical strategy and community affairs for the Swank Memory Care Center and medical director of the Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) Unit.
In 2010, 14,000 Delawareans age 65 and older were living with Alzheimer’s disease, and an additional 12,000 individuals were living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s or related dementias, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. By 2025, an estimated 16,000 Delawareans will be living with Alzheimer’s alone.
Wilmington resident Patricia Mulrooney shared the story of the struggles she faced when her mother began suffering from Alzheimers’, as well as the support her family receives by the Swank Center and the day program at the Visiting Nurse Association’s Evergreen Alzheimer’s Day Center. Mulrooney was accompanied by her husband, Charlie.
“If am so grateful for Christiana Care’s staff who I found to be a great fit for my mother, myself and our family,” Mulrooney said.
Media outlets including 6ABC, WDEL and WDDE were on hand to capture the news conference.